In conjunction with National Teen Driver Safety Week October 16-22, a new poll released by the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI) highlights the need for more parents to discuss the greatest dangers young drivers may be facing – distracted driving, lack of seatbelt use, speeding, impaired driving and extra passengers.
Because parents play such an important role in influencing their teens’ decision making while driving, PCI asked parents what driving risks they have discussed with their children. The survey found that most parents had talked with their kids about using seatbelts all/most of the time (65%) and texting while driving (56%). However, only about half of parents have discussed speeding (50%), talking on a cell phone while driving (47%) or driving under the influence of alcohol (46%), and even less have touched on subjects such as using social media while driving (42%), driving under the influence of marijuana (32%) or talking with passengers while driving (16%). The online survey of over 1,000 U.S. parents was conducted in September 2016 by Harris Poll on behalf of PCI.
“Parents need to take the time to talk with their kids about the many dangers of driving,” said Bob Passmore, assistant vice president of policy development and research for PCI. “Over the past two years the roadways have become much more dangerous. Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that motor vehicle crashes, the leading cause of deaths for teenagers in the U.S., jumped more than 10 percent since 2014. Parents need to set a good example and educate their loved ones to put the phone down and pay attention to the road.”
The survey found that nearly all parents who currently drive said they set a good example for their children by avoiding driving while distracted (90%) and parents were more likely to say they wear seatbelts all or most of the time (77%) than non-parents (71%). But parents were more likely than non-parents to say they engage in activities that cause distractions such as talking on a cell phone while driving (24% vs. 18%, respectively) or eating while driving (27% vs. 17%, respectively).
“Communicating the dangers of distracted driving is particularly important because teenagers are especially vulnerable to these accidents,” said Passmore. “According to the AAA Foundation, the 15- to 19-year-old age group has the largest proportion of distracted drivers. Teens are distracted almost a quarter of the time they’re behind the wheel and they are four times more likely than adults to get into crashes or near-crashes when talking or texting on a smartphone.”
The survey also found that there is widespread agreement among an overwhelming number of parents that texting (98%), talking on a cell phone (87%), using social media (98%) or driving under the influence of drugs (98%) or alcohol (99%) are dangerous activities for someone to do while driving. “These are some of the primary reasons why traffic accidents, fatalities and injuries are increasing—and why we’re starting to see the byproduct of these trends: rising insurance costs,” said Passmore. “Simple modifications to driver behavior can have a big impact on these alarming accident statistics, make our roads safer and keep costs down for consumers.”
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